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April sees worst rise in fuel prices for 16 months

Press Release   •   May 03, 2018 10:02 BST

April saw motorists suffer the biggest increase in petrol and diesel prices for 16 months, with both fuels going up nearly 3p a litre.

Data from RAC Fuel Watch shows the average price of a litre of unleaded went up 2.74p from 120.46p to 123.20. Diesel rose 2.94p a litre from 123.08p to 126.02p.

Not since December 2016 have average fuel prices risen so sharply. The increase then was 3p a litre for both fuels, with petrol rising to 117.23p a litre and diesel to 119.63p. The last time the average price of unleaded was as expensive at it is now was in mid-November 2014. Diesel last exceeded 126p a litre on 1 December 2014.

RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams said: “A 12% surge in the price of oil* from $67 a barrel to $75 has cost motorists dear in April. A 3p a litre rise at the pumps is fortunately fairly unusual, but it’s definitely bad news as it means drivers are now paying 8p more a litre than they did last summer.

“The cost of filling up an average family-sized 55-litre car with petrol is now nearly £68 (£67.76) which is £4.50 more expensive than it was last July. For diesel car drivers it’s even worse with a tank costing over £69 (£69.31), which is £5.50 more.

“The dramatic rise in the oil price and its knock-on effect on the cost of fuel is clearly demonstrated by the fact that the four big supermarkets, which sell the largest volumes and therefore buy fuel in more quickly than other retailers, have raised their prices even more steeply. A litre of supermarket petrol went up 3.2p to 120.17p, and diesel by 3.3p to 123p, signifying they are quickly passing on increased wholesale costs to motorists.

“Unfortunately, the price of oil gained $8 in April driven by a combination of international issues, all of which could negatively affect global supply. The biggest of these is the fear that the United States could re-impose crippling economic sanctions on Iran – the third largest oil producer in OPEC – over its controversial nuclear energy programme which it has been limiting as agreed with six world powers, including the US and the UK.

“The outlook for fuel prices is not good at the moment as the oil price is well over $70 a barrel, and if the US does try to re-impose sanctions on Iran and supply drops, motorists will end up paying far more at the pumps. Our current two-week prediction is for prices to go up by a penny or so, but this could quickly get worse if oil gets more expensive and the pound weakens any further.”

Regional fuel price variation

Northern Ireland unusually experienced the biggest increase in petrol prices with a 3.47p rise from being the cheapest in the UK at 119.47p a litre to a ‘middle of the road’ 122.94p. The West Midlands saw the smallest increase at 2.38p to 122.68p. The South East is still the most expensive place to buy petrol with a litre costing 124.05p at the end of April.

Looking at diesel prices, motorists in Scotland were subject to the biggest uplift – 3.16p – to 126.06p, which was only just worse than Northern Ireland, although drivers there can take some solace from the knowledge that they are buying the cheapest diesel in the UK at 125p a litre. The most expensive diesel can be found in the South East where a litre now costs 126.79p.


Regional average unleaded pump prices

Unleaded 02/04/2018 30/04/2018 Change 55-litre tank cost as of 30/4/18
UK average 120.46 123.20 2.74 £67.76
Northern Ireland 119.47 122.94 3.47 £67.62
Scotland 119.91 122.96 3.05 £67.63
North West 119.78 122.68 2.90 £67.47
North East 119.80 122.69 2.89 £67.48
East 120.82 123.63 2.81 £68.00
Yorkshire And The Humber 119.74 122.48 2.74 £67.36
South East 121.31 124.05 2.74 £68.23
Wales 120.07 122.80 2.73 £67.54
South West 120.67 123.36 2.69 £67.85
East Midlands 120.35 123.01 2.66 £67.66
London 121.13 123.79 2.66 £68.08
West Midlands 120.30 122.68 2.38 £67.47


Regional average diesel pump prices

Diesel 02/04/2018 30/04/2018 Change 55-litre tank cost as of 30/4/18
UK average 123.08 126.02 2.94 £69.31
Scotland 122.90 126.06 3.16 £69.33
Northern Ireland 121.86 125.00 3.14 £68.75
North West 122.66 125.77 3.11 £69.17
Wales 122.75 125.81 3.06 £69.20
London 123.57 126.59 3.02 £69.62
North East 122.48 125.50 3.02 £69.03
West Midlands 122.67 125.57 2.90 £69.06
South East 123.91 126.79 2.88 £69.73
East Midlands 123.02 125.89 2.87 £69.24
East 123.73 126.55 2.82 £69.60
Yorkshire And The Humber 122.37 125.19 2.82 £68.85
South West 123.37 126.16 2.79 £69.39

Motorway fuel prices were largely unchanged in April with a litre of petrol costing 138.43p (a rise of just 0.34p) and diesel 141.11p – a slightly larger rise of 1.13p. This means both fuels are more than 15p a litre more expensive than the average UK prices.

Motorists can keep abreast of the latest fuel prices by visiting: rac.co.uk/fuelwatch or following #racfuelwatch on Twitter.

Notes to Editors

Average fuel prices quoted in theRAC Fuel Watch April 2018 report are based on Experian Catalist data from 2 to 30 April 2018.

* Dated Brent crude

For all media enquiries, please contact the RAC press office team on +44 (0)1454 664 123. The line is manned by an on-call press officer outside office hours. ISDN radio studio facilities are available for interviews Monday to Friday.

About the RAC

First formed in 1897, the RAC has been looking after the needs of its members and championing the interests of motorists for more than 120 years.

Today it has more than eight million members and is one of the UK’s most progressive motoring organisations, providing services for both private and business motorists. Whether it's roadside assistanceinsurancebuying a used carvehicle inspections and checkslegal services or up-to-the-minute traffic and travel information – the RAC offers a solution for all motoring needs. The RAC is committed to making motoring easier, safer, more affordable and more enjoyable for drivers and road users.

The RAC is the motorist’s champion and campaigns to support the interests of its members and UK motorists at a national level. This includes voicing concerns about the increasing cost of motoring, particularly the price of fuel and the high level of tax levied on it, advancing levels of road safety, and supporting the needs of all drivers, from young to old.

The RAC’s annual Report on Motoring – first published in 1989 – is one of a kind and provides a clear insight into the concerns and issues facing today’s motorists.

For the very latest news on UK fuel prices, check RAC Fuel Watch. It provides a comprehensive guide to the latest UK unleaded petrol and diesel prices – both at the wholesale level and at the pump - and tracks these prices daily to help drivers check if the price they pay to fill up is a fair one.

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